ISLAMABAD: Pakistani women filmmakers were among a host of others whose films were showcased at the 7th Women International Film Festival in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, on Sunday.
The two-day film festival, which began on Saturday and concluded on Sunday, featured 18 short films by filmmakers from Argentina, Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Turkiye, UK and the US Out of the 18 short films, two were by Pakistani filmmakers that were also screened at the festival.
The Pakistani films included “Baira Gharakh” by renowned director Mehreen Jabbar and “Awaaz” by Halimah Tariq. However, the third Pakistani submission, titled “My Mother’s Daughter” by Ahmen Khawaja and Mariam Khan, was stopped from being screened by the censor board.
The short film revolved around the controversial topic of child marriage and featured the story of a Christian girl’s forced conversion. The censor board termed the movie’s plot “propaganda against Pakistani culture and society.”
“We do receive lesser films from Pakistani filmmakers [to showcase in the festival] but we continue to encourage through competition and workshops, so more and more Pakistan women can take part in it,” Madeeha Raza, the festival’s founder, told Arab News on Saturday.
The aim of the event is to promote female filmmakers by building and uniting the next wave of talent and connecting the film community with one another, Raza said.
“It is evident that we need more such opportunities for women so they can take their stories to the screen and share them with the community,” she added.
Talking about the ban on screening of “My Mother’s Daughter” the organizer said it is “very unfortunate” that the censor board discourages much-needed voices Pakistan ought to have.
“It’s sad that this festival was able to screen films from France and Iran but we could not screen one of our own films,” she added.
Prashant Thaker, the co-writer of one of the entries from the US, titled “The woman under the tree” hoped more female filmmakers from Pakistan would get the opportunity to showcase a “true representation” of the country.
The 30-minute film is based on a homeless woman, was directed by India’s notable director, Karishma Kohli, and screened during the opening day of the film.
“In this festival, I am happy that it is female-driven,” Thaker said. “I think there is a lot of room at the table for a woman and I hope this trend continues.”
The festival will continue to screen short films in Pakistan’s Karachi and Lahore cities on March 16 and March 18, respectively.